2021 ANNUAL REPORT
The past year has been a time of great transformation at Epsilon Spires! Thanks to support from a wide range of funders we were able to move out of a financial deficit and offer an abundance of innovative programming to the Brattleboro Community. In 2021 Epsilon Spires hosted 68 events, many of which took place either outdoors or virtually for Covid safety. For indoor programs all visitors were required to wear a mask and socially distance, which was easily accomplished in the three-story sanctuary of our building where we hold events.
Epsilon Spires was very ambitious with its programming this year, with one or two events each week during the summer (our peak season). The diversity of our programs allowed us to connect with a variety of audiences and further establish ourselves as an organization bringing world-class art to Brattleboro. In addition to fulfilling our mission of providing space to engage in creative exploration, interdisciplinary thought, and cultural exchange, we successfully pivoted our events to be safe and socially-distant, demonstrating to our community that we can keep each other safe and still find connection.
Highlights of our year included another successful summer in the Backlot Cinema, our outdoor theater. We screened a diverse range of thought-provoking and rarely-seen cinema from around the world, including films of every genre and every continent except Antarctica. This included our popular collaboration with Vidhi Salla of the local radio show “Vidhi’s Bollywood Jukebox,” who presented a series of Bollywood movies with introductions providing background information and cultural context for the films. We also began pairing movies with culinary offerings from the region where the films were made, including refreshments by the Winooski-based Somali chef Said Bulle and a sold-out five-course dinner by the Indonesian street food caterer Kaki Lima.
In July 2021, Jamie Mohr co-curated a three-day “Celebration of Black Girlhood & Womanhood through Poetry, Films & Food” with the artist and public intellectual Shanta Lee Gander. The event featured film screenings by Black women directors, poetry readings by Black women poets, specialty crafted foods by culinary artists of color, and community discussions. The success of this event inspired us to launch a new artist salon series in 2022 to connect artists of color from across the country for a weekend-long exchange of performances, workshops, and artist talks.
This year we also ramped up programs featuring our 1906 Estey pipe organ, an important piece of local history that was manufactured here in Brattleboro. Over the summer Epsilon Spires collaborated with Brattleboro Memorial Hospital to hold a vaccine clinic accompanied by live organ music, and in the fall we launched a free monthly Lunchtime Organ Series featuring organists from around the Northeast. We also began an ongoing series of silent film screenings accompanied by musicians such as cellist Lori Goldston, organist Ben Model, and the experimental trio Psychedelic Cinema Orchestra.
In December 2021, Epsilon Spires hosted electric komungo performer and Guggenheim Composer Fellow Jin Hi Kim in a performance of “A Ritual for Covid-19.” Kim developed this community ritual for healing to commemorate the more than 400,000 deaths in the United States and 2 million deaths worldwide that had occurred due to the pandemic at the time she composed the piece. The work, inspired by Korean Shamanistic ssitkimkut ritual, purifies the deceased spirit while releasing the grief of survivors. A community processional of volunteers — including healthcare and hospice workers and people who have experienced devastating loss — participated in the performance, unknotting a 100-yard white cloth, symbolically releasing grief, pain, and loss with each knot.
These examples represent only a small sampling of the incredible live music, theater, community discussions, art exhibits, readings, and virtual events presented by Epsilon Spires in 2021. We look forward to even more ambitious and exciting programming in 2022 when we open our satellite artist residency program at the Green River Inn!
Approximately 70% of Epsilon Spires’ revenue in 2021 came from grants, with an additional 20% from contributions and 10% from ticket sales, for a total income of $104,726 and a net revenue after expenditures of $18,335. This grants-heavy model allows our programming to be as financially accessible as possible to the public, without placing undue financial burden on members of our community. Our long-term plan to raise funds will build on this successful strategy of engaging local, national, and international foundations and government agencies that believe in the importance of our work, in addition to donor contributions and event revenue from patrons who can afford to support us.
Our programming was made possible in 2021 by grants from The Thomas Thompson Trust and these generous supporters: